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1 The Higher School Certificate program of study

The purpose of the Higher School Certificate program of study is to:


provide a curriculum structure which encourages students to complete secondary education
foster the intellectual, social and moral development of students, in particular developing their:
knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes in the fields of study they choose
capacity to manage their own learning
desire to continue learning in formal or informal settings after school
capacity to work together with others
respect for the cultural diversity of Australian society
provide a flexible structure within which students can prepare for:
further education and training
employment
full and active participation as citizens
provide formal assessment and certification of students achievements
provide a context within which schools also have the opportunity to foster students physical and
spiritual development.
2 Rationale for Society and Culture in the
Stage 6 curriculum
The central goal of Society and Culture Stage 6 is the development of social and cultural literacy
and a clear understanding of the interaction of persons, societies, cultures, environments and
time. The influence of other aspects of societies and cultures including power, authority, identity,
gender, technologies and globalisation is also central to the course.
Society and Culture draws on cross-disciplinary concepts and social research methods from
anthropology; communication; cultural and media studies; philosophy; social psychology;
and sociology.
Society and Culture has direct relevance to the immediate needs of students and to their future
lives by enabling them to develop understanding of:
themselves
their own society and culture
the societies and cultures of others.
Students are provided with essential concepts, skills, competencies and knowledge to encourage
a process of independent thinking that can be used to explain patterns of behaviour, solve
problems, and engage in and actively contribute to all levels of society.
Society and Culture is a conceptually based course that promotes students' awareness of the
cultural continuities and changes within societies and cultures. It provides them with skills to
critically analyse social theories and complementary and contrasting viewpoints about people,
societies and cultures. Society and Culture promotes an awareness of individuals, groups and
institutions and facilitates intercultural understanding and communication.
Society and Culture encourages students to manage their own learning, including opportunities
to experience working within teams. In allowing students to study in areas of direct relevance to
their lives, Society and Culture contributes greatly to the promotion of lifelong learning, providing
opportunities for students to acquire a range of skills to support such learning.
The study of Society and Culture prepares students for adult life by developing knowledge,
understanding, skills and other qualities associated with effective citizenship at local, national,
regional and global levels. In so doing, it forms a basis for moving towards a more just society
through positive participation in community life and attaining social and cultural literacy.
4 Aim
The aim of Society and Culture Stage 6 is for students to achieve social and cultural literacy
by developing their knowledge and understanding about societies and cultures, developing
their social and cultural research skills, and promoting positive values and attitudes essential
to achieving social and cultural literacy.
5 Objectives
Through the study of Society and Culture Stage 6, students will develop:
knowledge and understanding about:
social and cultural concepts and their application
personal, social and cultural identity and interactions within societies and cultures
how personal experience and public knowledge interact to develop social and
cultural literacy
continuity and change, personal and social futures
social and cultural research methods
skills to:
apply ethical social and cultural research to investigate and analyse information from
a variety of sources
communicate information, ideas and issues in appropriate forms to different audiences
and in a variety of contexts
informed and responsible values and attitudes towards:
a just society
intercultural understanding
informed and active citizenship
ethical research practices
lifelong learning.
6 Course structure
HSC course
(120 indicative hours)
Core
Personal Interest Project (30% of course time)
Social and Cultural Continuity and Change (30% of course time)
Depth studies (40% of course
time)
TWO to be chosen from the following:
Popular Culture
Belief Systems and Ideologies
Social Inclusion and Exclusion
Social Conformity and Nonconformity
6.1 Course overview
HSC course overview
HSC course
Core: Personal Core: Social and Depth study: Depth study: Depth study: Depth study:
Interest Project Cultural Continuity Popular Culture Belief Systems Social Inclusion Social Conformity
and Change and Ideologies and Exclusion and Nonconformity
(30% of course time) (30% of course time) (20% of course time) (20% of course time) (20% of course time) (20% of course time)
Outcomes Outcomes Outcomes Outcomes Outcomes Outcomes
H1, H4, H5, H6, H7, H8, H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6, H1, H2, H3, H5, H7, H1, H2, H3, H5, H7, H1, H2, H3, H5, H7, H1, H2, H3, H5, H7,
H9, H10 H7, H9, H10 H9, H10 H9, H10 H9, H10 H9, H10

Components Content Content Content Content Content


Introduction Integrated concepts Integrated concepts Integrated concepts Integrated concepts Integrated concepts
Log Contemporary Contemporary Contemporary Contemporary Contemporary
Central material context context context context context
Conclusion The nature of social The nature of The nature of The nature of The nature of
Resource list and cultural research popular culture belief systems social inclusion social conformity
methods Focus study and ideologies and exclusion and nonconformity
The nature of social The near future Focus study Focus study Focus study
and cultural The near future The near future The near future
continuity and
change
Focus study
The near future
7 Objectives and outcomes

7.1 Table of objectives and outcomes


Objectives Preliminary course outcomes HSC course outcomes

Students will develop A student: A student:


knowledge and
understanding about:
social and cultural P1 identifies and applies H1 evaluates and effectively
concepts and their social and cultural concepts applies social and cultural
application concepts
personal, social and P2 describes personal, social H2 explains the development
cultural identity and and cultural identity of personal, social and
interactions within cultural identity
societies and cultures P3 identifies and describes H3 analyses relationships
relationships and and interactions within
interactions within and between social and
and between social cultural groups
and cultural groups
how personal P4 identifies the features of H4 assesses the interaction
experience and social and cultural literacy of personal experience
public knowledge and how it develops and public knowledge in
interact to develop the development of social
social and cultural and cultural literacy
literacy
continuity and change, P5 explains continuity H5 analyses continuity and
personal and social and change and their change and their influence
futures implications for societies on personal and social
and cultures futures
social and cultural P6 differentiates between H6 evaluates social and
research methods social and cultural cultural research methods
research methods for appropriateness to
specific research tasks
Objectives Preliminary course outcomes HSC course outcomes
Students will develop A student: A student:
skills to:
apply ethical social P7 selects, organises and H7 selects, organises,
and cultural research considers information synthesises and analyses
to investigate and from a variety of sources information from a variety
analyse information for usefulness, validity of sources for usefulness,
from a variety of and bias validity and bias
sources P8 plans and conducts ethical H8 uses planning and review
social and cultural research strategies to conduct
ethical social and cultural
research that is appropriate
for tasks ranging from the
simple to the complex
communicate P9 uses appropriate course H9 applies complex course
information, ideas language and concepts language and concepts
and issues in suitable for different appropriate for a range
appropriate forms audiences and contexts of audiences and contexts
to different audiences P10 communicates information, H10 communicates complex
and in a variety ideas and issues using information, ideas and
of contexts appropriate written, oral issues using appropriate
and graphic forms written, oral and graphic
forms
8.5 Content: Society and Culture HSC course
HSC core: Personal Interest Project
(30% of course time)
The Personal Interest Project is integrated across the whole HSC course and draws together the
interests, research skills and personal experiences of the student.
Outcomes
A student:
H1 evaluates and effectively applies social and cultural concepts
H4 assesses the interaction of personal experience and public knowledge in the development
of social and cultural literacy
H5 analyses continuity and change and their influence on personal and social futures
H6 evaluates social and cultural research methods for appropriateness to specific
research tasks
H7 selects, organises, synthesises and analyses information from a variety of sources for
usefulness, validity and bias
H8 uses planning and review strategies to conduct ethical social and cultural research that is
appropriate for tasks ranging from the simple to the complex
H9 applies complex course language and concepts appropriate for a range of audiences
and contexts
H10 communicates complex information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and
graphic forms
Content
Social and cultural research methods are to be applied through the process of completing the
Personal Interest Project.
Students are to:
develop a research proposal clearly outlining the topic, question or problem
select appropriate concepts to ensure that the topic and the subsequent research relate to the
Society and Culture course
select methods appropriate to the research proposal and apply these to the topic
gather and evaluate information and sources related to the topic
draft and edit text that analyses and synthesises the findings of the research
complete all formal requirements of the Personal Interest Project:
introduction
log
central material
conclusion
resource list
achieve an appreciation of the ethical implications of social research and apply these to the
Personal Interest Project (see page 21)
communicate the findings of their research.

Note: See Assessment and Reporting in Society and Culture Stage 6 for the
requirements of the Personal Interest Project. This document and other resources
and advice related to the Personal Interest Project are available on the Boards website
(www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc).
HSC core: Social and Cultural Continuity and Change
(30% of course time)
The focus of this study is to understand the nature of social and cultural continuity and change
and to examine it, through the application of research methods and social theory, in relation to
a selected country.
Outcomes
A student:
H1 evaluates and effectively applies social and cultural concepts
H2 explains the development of personal, social and cultural identity
H3 analyses relationships and interactions within and between social and cultural groups
H4 assesses the interaction of personal experience and public knowledge in the development
of social and cultural literacy
H5 analyses continuity and change and their influence on personal and social futures
H6 evaluates social and cultural research methods for appropriateness to specific
research tasks
H7 selects, organises, synthesises and analyses information from a variety of sources for
usefulness, validity and bias
H9 applies complex course language and concepts appropriate for a range of audiences
and contexts
H10 communicates complex information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and
graphic forms
Content
Integrated concepts
The fundamental, additional and related concepts listed below are to be integrated across the
study of Social and Cultural Continuity and Change.

Fundamental course concepts:


persons culture time
society environment
Additional course concepts:
power gender technologies
authority identity globalisation
Related core study concepts:
continuity and change tradition westernisation
modernisation beliefs and values cooperation and conflict
sustainability empowerment
Contemporary context
The following points are to be integrated across the study of Social and Cultural Continuity
and Change:
use examples drawn from contemporary society
examine the impact of technologies, including communication technologies, on continuity and
change
apply a social theory to a selected country and assess its ability to explain both continuity
and change
assess the role and value of social and cultural research in the examination of contemporary
societies and cultures.
The nature of social and cultural research methods
Students develop knowledge and understanding of research methods by examining:
the features of primary and secondary research
the nature and characteristics of quantitative and qualitative research
the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the following research methods:
case study content analysis
focus group interview
observation participant observation
personal reflection questionnaire
secondary research statistical analysis.
The nature of social and cultural continuity and change
Students develop knowledge and understanding of social and cultural continuity and change
by examining:
the nature of continuity and change:
change is a complex process
evolutionary change
transformative change
resistance to change
the influence that continuity and change have on the development of society at the micro, meso
and macro levels
the impact of modernisation and westernisation on social and cultural continuity and change
theories of social change as attempts to explain change, and resistance to change, within
societies and cultures in relation to:
structural changes within society
the processes and agents of social change
the directions of change
key features of each of the following theories:
conflict
evolutionary
functionalist
interactionist.
Focus study
Social and Cultural Continuity and Change in a Selected Country
Students will study in detail a country in order to:
determine the nature of traditional society and culture
analyse the nature of power and authority
examine the impact of continuity and change upon the lives of individuals and groups in the
micro, meso and macro levels of society.
Students will explore BOTH continuity AND change in the selected country through a detailed
study of ONE of the following aspects:
beliefs, values and lifestyles
education
family life and population changes
gender roles and the status of men and women
the legal system and political processes.
In relation to the selected country, students will examine:
Is all change necessarily progress?
Which groups benefit from change? Which do not?
How has access to technologies impacted on the rate and direction of change?
Choose ONE social theory from the list below and apply it to the selected country:
conflict
evolutionary
functionalist
interactionist.
Assess the appropriateness of this social theory in explaining continuity and change for the
selected country.
The near future (5 to 10 years)
Students are to:
determine current trends and suggest probable future directions for the aspect of the country
studied in the focus study
evaluate the impact and implications for the aspect of the country studied of:
likely changes
probable continuities
predict the importance of technologies to the country studied.
HSC depth study: Popular Culture
(20% of course time)
The focus of this study is the interaction between popular culture, society and the individual.
Outcomes
A student:
H1 evaluates and effectively applies social and cultural concepts
H2 explains the development of personal, social and cultural identity
H3 analyses relationships and interactions within and between social and cultural groups
H5 analyses continuity and change and their influence on personal and social futures
H7 selects, organises, synthesises and analyses information from a variety of sources for
usefulness, validity and bias
H9 applies complex course language and concepts appropriate for a range of audiences
and contexts
H10 communicates complex information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and
graphic forms
Content
Integrated concepts
The fundamental, additional and related concepts listed below are to be integrated across the
study of Popular Culture.

Fundamental course concepts:


persons culture time
society environment

Additional course concepts:


power gender technologies
authority identity globalisation
Related depth study concepts:
commercialisation commodification continuity
consumption change conflict
ideology institutional power values
Contemporary context
The following points are to be integrated across the study of Popular Culture:
use examples drawn from contemporary society
assess the impact of technologies, including communication technologies, on popular culture
examine a contemporary issue in popular culture using the research method of content
analysis.
The nature of popular culture
Students develop an understanding of the nature of popular culture by examining the FOUR
distinguishing characteristics:
associated with commercial products and paraphernalia:
demand develops and expands due to media, marketing and dissemination processes
develops from a local to a global level:
experiences global acceptance with the progression and integration of technologies
achieves widespread consumer access:
broad access is assisted by media and communication technologies
is constantly changing and evolving:
experiences continuity and change influences society while simultaneously society
influences the popular culture.
Focus study
Students are to examine ONE popular culture that conforms to the distinguishing characteristics
and has a global acceptance by examining:
the creation and development of the popular culture:
the origins of the popular culture
the development of the popular culture from a local to a global level
the process of commodification for the popular culture
the role of mythology in the creation and perpetuation of the popular culture
continuities and changes to the popular culture
the consumption of the popular culture:
the consumers of the popular culture and the nature of its consumption
the relationship of heroes and mythology to media and consumption
how globalisation and technologies have influenced consumption
the relationship of access and consumption to age, class, ethnicity, gender,
location, sexuality
how consumption and ownership of paraphernalia influence a sense of identity
the control of the popular culture:
the ownership of the popular culture and the tensions between consumers and producers
the stakeholders and how they influence the popular culture family, peer groups, media,
marketers, governments, global groups
the role and impact of official and unofficial censorship
the influence of power and authority at the micro, meso and macro levels
the different perceptions of the popular culture:
groups that accept and reject the popular culture
changing perceptions and the value of the popular culture to groups in society
how the popular culture constructs or deconstructs gender
the contribution of the popular culture to social change:
how the popular culture expresses contemporary social values
the positive and negative impact of the popular culture on wider society
the ways in which the popular culture has contributed to social change.
The popular culture studied must be drawn from a GENRE of ONE of the following:
comic book leisure television series
cyber culture literature toy.
fashion music
film sport
The near future (5 to 10 years)
Students are to:
determine current trends and suggest probable future directions for the popular culture
evaluate the impact and implications for the popular culture of:
likely changes
probable continuities
predict the importance of the popular culture to society in the near future.
HSC depth study: Belief Systems and Ideologies
(20% of course time)
The focus of this study is the relationship of belief systems and ideologies to culture and identity.
Outcomes
A student:
H1 evaluates and effectively applies social and cultural concepts
H2 explains the development of personal, social and cultural identity
H3 analyses relationships and interactions within and between social and cultural groups
H5 analyses continuity and change and their influence on personal and social futures
H7 selects, organises, synthesises and analyses information from a variety of sources for
usefulness, validity and bias
H9 applies complex course language and concepts appropriate for a range of audiences
and contexts
H10 communicates complex information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and
graphic forms
Content
Integrated concepts
The fundamental, additional and related concepts listed below are to be integrated across the
study of Belief Systems and Ideologies.

Fundamental course concepts:


persons culture time
society environment

Additional course concepts:


power gender technologies
authority identity globalisation
Related depth study concepts:
values customs philosophy
beliefs worldview secularisation
symbols ritual institutional power
Contemporary context
The following points are to be integrated across the study of Belief Systems and Ideologies:
use examples drawn from contemporary society
assess the impact of technologies, including communication technologies, on the belief system
or ideology
examine a contemporary issue in a belief system or ideology using the research method
of interview.
The nature of belief systems and ideologies
Students develop an understanding of the nature of belief systems and ideologies by examining:
the similarities and differences between belief systems and ideologies
the nature and role of shared values and understanding within belief systems and ideologies
and how this creates meaning, purpose and an identity for individuals and groups
how belief systems and ideologies express values and beliefs and ways of perceiving the world
at the micro, meso and macro levels
the nature and role of hierarchy and internal power structures within belief systems
and ideologies
the process of secularisation in the development and extent of belief systems and ideologies
within Australia.
Focus study
Students are to develop knowledge and understanding of either one belief system OR one
ideology that demonstrates a set of values and beliefs and a relationship to the wider society
and culture by examining:
the philosophy of the belief system or ideology:
the relationship between its historical development and its underlying principles
the beliefs and values expressed and the impact on personal and collective identity
the nature and extent of adherents in the world today
traditions and culture in the belief system or ideology:
important places, texts and unique language and their significance
the role of symbols, rituals and customs
the importance of myths and stories
how the belief system or ideology defines gender and gender roles
the internal structure in the belief system or ideology:
the role of important people and power structures
the role and impact of dissent
the nature and impact of change and resistance to change
the impact of technologies and globalisation on continuity and change
the relationship of the belief system or ideology to wider society:
acceptance and rejection of the philosophy at the micro, meso and macro levels
the relationship of the belief system or ideology to ethical issues in society
the relationship of the belief system or ideology to peace and conflict in the world.
The focus study must be drawn from ONE of the following belief systems or ideologies:
Belief systems Ideologies
Bahai Capitalism
Buddhism Confucianism
Christianity Democracy
Hinduism Environmentalism
Indigenous spiritualities Feminism
Islam Humanism
Jainism Socialism
Judaism Taoism
Shinto Totalitarianism
Sikhism

Note: The study must be of the whole belief system or ideology, not sectors within it.
The near future (5 to 10 years)
Students are to:
determine current trends and suggest probable future directions for the belief system
or ideology
evaluate the impact and implications for the belief system or ideology of:
likely changes
probable continuities
predict the importance of the belief system or ideology to society in the near future.
HSC depth study: Social Inclusion and Exclusion
(20% of course time)
The focus of this study is the nature of social inclusion and exclusion and the implications for
individuals and groups in societies and cultures.
Outcomes
A student:
H1 evaluates and effectively applies social and cultural concepts
H2 explains the development of personal, social and cultural identity
H3 analyses relationships and interactions within and between social and cultural groups
H5 analyses continuity and change and their influence on personal and social futures
H7 selects, organises, synthesises and analyses information from a variety of sources for
usefulness, validity and bias
H9 applies complex course language and concepts appropriate for a range of audiences
and contexts
H10 communicates complex information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and
graphic forms
Content
Integrated concepts
The fundamental, additional and related concepts listed below are to be integrated across the
study of Social Inclusion and Exclusion.
The fundamental course concepts:
persons culture time
society environment
The additional course concepts:
power gender technologies
authority identity globalisation
Related depth study concepts:
social mobility race and ethnicity prejudice and
social class social differentiation discrimination
socioeconomic status equality
life course human rights
Contemporary context
The following points are to be integrated across the study of Social Inclusion and Exclusion:
use examples drawn from contemporary society
assess the impact of technologies, including communication technologies, on individuals,
groups and institutions
examine a contemporary issue related to social inclusion and/or exclusion using the research
method of data analysis.
The nature of social inclusion and exclusion
Students develop an understanding of the nature of social inclusion and exclusion by examining:
the pluralist nature of societies and cultures
an overview of similarities and differences between individuals and groups in societies
and cultures
the concept of socially valued resources
how individuals and groups experience social exclusion within Australia at the micro, meso and
macro levels.
Focus study
Within ONE country, students are to examine:
inclusion and exclusion for ONE of the following groups:
a different racial or ethnic group
those who follow different belief systems and cultural practices
people with a disability
those living in different environments urban, rural, isolated
different ages
different genders
in relation to access to EACH of the following socially valued resources:
education employment technologies
housing health care the justice system
the implications of access for this group in relation to life chances for its members
the perception of this group by other groups within the country:
influences on individuals perceptions of others
how attitudes of group members towards other groups influence their behaviour towards
those groups, including stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination
the initiatives of governments and community organisations in implementing programs
focused on social inclusion for the group.
In relation to the broad society of the country studied, students are to examine:
the role and influence of historical, economic, political and legal forces in the generation and
maintenance of social inclusion and exclusion
emerging social exclusion resulting from limited access to modern technologies and
communications, and its implications.
The near future (5 to 10 years)
Students are to:
determine current trends and suggest probable future directions for the country studied
in relation to social inclusion and exclusion
evaluate the impact and implications for social inclusion and exclusion in the country studied of:
likely changes
probable continuities
propose strategies that are likely to reduce prejudice and discrimination and lead to the
achievement of social cohesion within the near future for the country studied.
HSC depth study: Social Conformity and Nonconformity
(20% of course time)
The focus of this study is the formation of, and influences on, attitudes and behaviours
of groups and their members, including factors influencing conformity, and the role of,
and responses to, nonconformity.
Outcomes
A student:
H1 evaluates and effectively applies social and cultural concepts
H2 explains the development of personal, social and cultural identity
H3 analyses relationships and interactions within and between social and cultural groups
H5 analyses continuity and change and their influence on personal and social futures
H7 selects, organises, synthesises and analyses information from a variety of sources for
usefulness, validity and bias
H9 applies complex course language and concepts appropriate for a range of audiences
and contexts
H10 communicates complex information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and
graphic forms
Content
Integrated concepts
The fundamental, additional and related concepts listed below are to be integrated across the
study of Social Conformity and Nonconformity.

Fundamental course concepts:


persons culture time
society environment

Additional course concepts:


power gender technologies
authority identity globalisation
Related depth study concepts:
deindividuation social cognition self-concept
stereotype social cohesion values
world view deviance
Contemporary context
The following points are to be integrated across the study of Social Conformity and Nonconformity:
use examples drawn from contemporary society
assess the impact of technologies, including communication technologies, on social conformity
and nonconformity
examine a contemporary issue associated with conformity and/or nonconformity using the
research method of observation.
The nature of social conformity and nonconformity
Students develop an understanding of the nature of social conformity and nonconformity
by examining:
factors that influence conformity and obedience in individuals
responses to social influence: acquiescence, internalisation and identification
deindividuation: the impact of personal anonymity of individuals in groups
how nonconformity determines the boundary between appropriate and inappropriate
behaviours and attitudes
the social costs and benefits of nonconformity for both individuals and the wider society
the impact of agenda setting, including the role of the media, on attitude formation in individuals
and groups
the ways the ideologies, values and behaviours of a subcultural group currently perceived as
not conforming to the wider society may influence others and lead to social change.
Focus study
In relation to one group, students are to examine:
the historical and social development of the group
the role of status, authority, power, privilege and responsibility within the group
how the concepts of cohesion and community operate to define the groups identity
ways in which the group influences its individual members in order to achieve group cohesion:
the role of group values and norms
peer pressure
attitudes of the group to nonconformity and the role of sanctions within the group
positive and negative interactions with the wider society
perceptions of the group by the wider society and the implications of these perceptions.
The group studied must be drawn from one of the following:
community non-government organisation
cultural political
environmental protest.
interest
The near future (5 to 10 years)
Students are to:
determine current trends for interactions between the subcultural group studied and the
wider society
evaluate the impact and implications for the subcultural group of:
likely changes
probable continuities
predict how the subcultural group may interact with and influence society in the near future.
9 Course requirements
For the Preliminary course:
120 indicative hours are required to complete this course.
For the HSC course:
120 indicative hours are required to complete this course
completion of a Personal Interest Project is a prerequisite of completing this course.

9.1 Personal Interest Project requirements


Advice on the Personal Interest Project requirements is contained in Assessment and Reporting
in Society and Culture Stage 6.
The document and other resources and advice related to the Personal Interest Project are
available on the Boards website (www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc).

10 Post-school opportunities
The study of Society and Culture Stage 6 provides students with knowledge, understanding
and skills that form a valuable foundation for a range of courses at university and other tertiary
institutions. In addition, the study of Society and Culture Stage 6 assists students in preparing
for employment and full and active participation as citizens.

11 Assessment and reporting


Advice on appropriate assessment practice in relation to the Society and Culture syllabus is
contained in Assessment and Reporting in Society and Culture Stage 6. That document provides
general advice on assessment in Stage 6, as well as the specific requirements for the Preliminary
and HSC courses. The document contains:
suggested components and weightings for the internal assessment of the Preliminary course
mandatory components and weightings for the internal assessment of the HSC course
the HSC examination specifications, which describe the format of the external HSC examination
advice on the Personal Interest Project requirements.
The document and other resources and advice related to assessment in Stage 6 Society and
Culture are available on the Boards website (www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc).
12 Glossary
All words contained in this glossary have a meaning specific to the context of the Society and
Culture Stage 6 Syllabus. This glossary does not attempt to ascribe any absolute definition to
terms. It is designed to assist teachers in interpreting this syllabus and to assist student learning.
acculturation The process of contacts between different cultures and also the outcome
of such contacts. Acculturation occurs when members of one cultural
group adopt the beliefs and behaviours of another group. It may involve
direct social interaction or exposure to other cultures through mass media.

agent of A person or institution that shapes an individuals social development.


socialisation

authority Linked to power and the right to make decisions and to determine,
adjudicate or settle issues and disputes in society. Authority is best
understood as the legitimate use of power. The use of authority is
important in the process of decision-making and in initiating change
and maintaining continuity.
belief system A system in which members of the group share a commitment to a set
of beliefs and values that systematically defines a way of perceiving the
social, cultural, physical and psychological world. Belief systems can
be categorised as religious and non-religious. Both have rituals, symbols,
stories, traditions and customs.

beliefs A set of opinions or convictions; ideas we believe in as the truth. Beliefs


can come from ones own experience and reflection, or from what one
is told by others.

case study The case study method involves the collection of data related to an
individual or small group through one or more research methods for
example, observation, interviews and the collection of documentary
evidence. Because case study can, and often does, include different
methods to collect data, which are then combined with the purpose of
illuminating the case from different angles, case study is considered as
a methodology by many social researchers.

change The alteration or modification of cultural elements in a society. Change


to society can occur at the micro, meso and macro levels. It can be
brought about by modernisation processes, including technological
innovation. This force results in an alteration to culture.

commercialisation The process of adding value to an idea, product or commodity with the
aim of selling it and making a profit. Commercialisation is about preparing
the item for sale and making money from it. The success of
commercialisation often relies on marketing and advertising.

commodification A social process by which an item is turned into a commodity in readiness


to be traded. The process relies on marketing strategies with the aim of
producing a perceived value in the item.

commodity A marketable item or consumer object that can be supplied because there
is a demand and that can be purchased through economic exchange.

communication Technologies used in transmitting information and entertainment between


technologies senders and receivers across various media, including newspapers,
magazines, movies, broadcast, cable, satellite, radio and the internet.
community A (usually local) social system with an implied sense of relationship
and mutual identity among its members. As well as being locational,
a community can be a group that shares a strong common interest
and whose members communicate over space and through time using
communication technologies.

conflict A perceived incompatibility of goals or actions. Conflict can occur at all


levels in society and its resolution can involve modification to what was
previously in place.

conformity When individuals behave in certain ways as a result of group pressure,


whether real or imagined.

consumption The process of selecting and using a product. Consumption involves


a conscious decision to engage with a commodity.

content analysis Used to investigate and interpret the content of the mass media and
historical documents in order to discover how particular issues are
(or were) presented. At its most basic, content analysis is a statistical
exercise that involves counting, categorising and interpreting words
and images from documents, film, art, music and other cultural products
and media in relation to an aspect or quality of social life. When used
as a qualitative method, content analysis helps the researcher to
understand social life through analysis and interpretation of words
and images from documents, film, art, music and other cultural
artefacts and media.

continuity The persistence or consistent existence of cultural elements in a society


across time. Continuity can also be referred to as the maintenance of the
traditions and social structures that bring stability to a society.

cooperation The ability of individual members of a group to work together to achieve


a common goal that is in the groups interests and that contributes to the
continued existence of the group.

cultural diversity Appears as a society becomes larger and more complex, immigrant
groups join the dominant culture, and subcultures form within the society.
The more complex the society, the more likely it is that its culture will
become internally varied and diverse. Cultural diversity implies a two-way
sharing of ideas, customs and values among the various cultural groups
that comprise the society.

cultural heritage The practices, traditions, customs and knowledge that define who we are
socially and personally. Cultural heritage is an expression of the values
that help us to understand our past, make sense of the present, and
express a continuity of culture for the future. Cultural heritage can be
analysed at the micro, meso and macro levels in society.

cultural relativism The idea that concepts are socially constructed and vary across cultures.
Therefore, individuals and groups must always view other cultures
objectively and not judge them using the values and norms of their
own culture as a measure of right or wrong.

cultural The transmission of culture such as traditions, values, language,


transmission symbols, cultural traits, beliefs and normative behaviour across and
between generations in society.
customs Established ways of acting or cultural practices that are unique to groups
in society. Customs have important links to the heritage, values and
traditions of people.

deindividuation When individuals lose self-awareness and self-restraint when acting


within a group that allows more anonymity. When deindividuation occurs,
individuals feel less responsible for their actions and will do things in
groups that they otherwise would not do.

discrimination Treating a person or group differently, often in a negative manner, usually


as a result of prejudice. Discrimination may also be positive, designed to
redress perceived injustice.

empowerment A social process that gives power or authority to people at a micro level,
to groups at a meso level, and to institutions at a macro level, allowing
them to think, behave, take action, control and make decisions.

equality Occurs when individuals and groups within a society have the same
chances of access to education, wealth, power, equal rights under the
law, and so on. True social equality occurs when there is social mobility
and access to opportunities and resources that are socially valued. True
equality is often thought of as an ideal, rather than an achievable reality.

ethical Ethics refers to moral issues of what is right or wrong. Ethical behaviour
follows understood codes of what is morally right when undertaking
any study of people or society. In terms of social research, this means
informed consent, confidentiality and privacy, consideration of the
possible effects on research participants and on the researcher herself or
himself, consideration of vulnerable groups, such as children, and the
avoidance of any covert research, which would mean that no informed
consent from research participants was given. Ethical research also
means that any material from sources other than the researchers own
work is clearly acknowledged.

ethnicity An individuals identification with, or sense of belonging to, an ethnic


(ethnic identity) group. This is based on perceived common origins that people share,
such as a specific ancestry and culture, that mark them as different from
others.

evolutionary The process of structural change that creates a slow alteration in


change the institutions or social roles of a society that are then integrated into
that society. Evolutionary change, like all social change, can occur as
a result of internal sources, such as ideological and/or cultural shifts
or technological innovation, or external sources, such as environmental
conditions, acculturation or cultural diffusion.

family A social group characterised by (usually) common residence, economic


cooperation and reproduction.

focus group A research method used to collect data from an in-depth planned
discussion of a defined topic held by a small group of people brought
together by a moderator. An interview schedule, time and place are
organised. The recording of responses increases the success of this
method. The techniques of conducting the focus group are similar
to those of conducting an in-depth interview. However, the researcher
needs to be able to manage the discussion.
gender The socially constructed differences between females and males. Social
life including family life, roles, work, behaviour and other activities is
organised around the dimensions of this difference. Gender also refers to
the cultural ideals, identity and stereotypes of masculinity and femininity
and the sexual division of labour in institutions and organisations. Gender
reflects the values a society places on these social constructs, which are
particular and unique to a society.

globalisation A process of integration and the sharing of goods, capital, services,


knowledge, leisure, sport, ideas and culture between countries. It has
been brought about by improved technologies. Globalisation is evidenced
in the emergence of global patterns of consumption and consumerism;
the growth of transnational corporations; the emergence of global sport;
the spread of world tourism; and the growth of global military and
economic systems. Globalisation has created a consciousness of the
world as a single place.

hybrid society A society that comprises a range of social and cultural influences and
components, rather than having a homogenous identity.

identity The sense of self. This can be viewed from the personal, social and
cultural levels. Identity is formed over a period of time and is the result
of interactions at the micro, meso and macro levels of society. An identity
has dimensions or layers that create a sense of inclusion in a group or
culture. Contributing factors to ones identity may include gender,
sexuality, family, class, ethnicity, beliefs, social status, group membership
and national pride.

ideology An organised collection or body of ideas that reflects the beliefs, values
and interests of a group, system, institution or nation. In general use, the
term refers to the body of doctrine, myth and symbols held by the group
that guides individual and group actions.

institutional power The power that exists in institutions and how it is used to control aspects
of society. Institutions such as the family, school, law and government use
inherent power to control, change and maintain continuity of interactions.

institutions The structural components of a society through which its main concerns
and activities are organised for example, the church, the law, the
government and the family. These structures provide stability and
continuity for society.

interview An interview may be tightly structured, semi-structured, unstructured,


in-depth or conversational. This method involves the researcher and the
interviewee in a one-to-one situation and may be quite time consuming.
The researcher may interview several people at different times using the
same interview questions.

kinship Established relationships between individuals and groups on the basis


of socially recognised biological relationships or marital links.
life chances The relative level of opportunity that an individual has to acquire material,
social and cultural rewards such as education, possessions and status.
To a significant extent, an individuals position in the stratification system
will have important implications for many other areas of their lives. It will
affect their access to those things defined by society as desirable, and
their ability to avoid those things defined as undesirable. A persons life
chances are also influenced by other aspects of stratification, such as
gender and ethnicity.

life course A culturally defined sequence of age categories through which people
are usually expected to pass as they progress from birth to death.

localisation Where communities or societies respond to globalisation by adopting


and adapting introduced ideas and practices to suit peoples needs in
their local context.

macro-level The big picture the wider social structure, social processes and their
society interrelationships. Macro-level society includes those social institutions
such as the media, the law, the workplace and the government that help
to shape the social and cultural world. The macro level examines how
these collective groups relate to the wider society of which they are
a part (as a whole).

meso-level The middle ground where individuals interact within groups such as
society schools, communities, church groups and neighbourhoods. The meso
level consists of larger groups that interact directly with the individual.
It focuses on relationships between middle-level social structures and
the individual. Meso-level society is also known as middle-level society.

micro-level Where individuals everyday actions and social interactions occur for
society example, within families and small-scale social groups. The micro level
focuses on patterns of social interaction at the individual level.

modernisation A process of dynamic social change resulting from the diffusion and
adoption of the characteristics of apparently more advanced societies
by other societies that are apparently less advanced. It involves social
transformation whereby the society becomes technologically advanced
and updates cultural life.

multiculturalism An approach to cultural diversity in society that promotes the view


that cultural difference should be respected and even encouraged
and supported. Multiculturalism is premised on the belief that different
cultural groups can live together harmoniously, each contributing to
an enriching of the whole society.

mythology A set of stories or traditions that serves to support a worldview


or is associated with a group or historical event. Myths may have
arisen naturally from truth, or they may be fabricated or deliberately
fostered to rationalise, support or explain ideas. Mythologies and
their narratives provide a framework for societies to explain or support
a belief or practice.
non-participant The researcher observes the action taking place without actively
observation engaging in it or interacting with the participants. The researcher
draws meaning from what is being observed, rather than simply
counting specific actions as in a quantitative observational study.
Non-participant observation can be covert (participants not aware
of the researcher) or overt (participants aware of the researcher and
his or her purpose). A criticism of overt non-participant observation
is that the very presence of the researcher alters the behaviours and
interactions of those being observed (the Hawthorne effect). A criticism
of covert research is that it raises ethical concerns.

norms Shared expectations of behaviour that are considered to be culturally and


socially desirable and appropriate. Norms are prescriptive, but lack the
formal status of rules. They vary across groups, cultures and societies.

observation Involves watching and recording behaviours within a clearly defined area.

participant The researcher is immersed in the action being observed and his or her
observation role as researcher is not obvious. An example of participant observation
occurs when the researcher joins a group in order to study it. Researchers
using participant observation must be aware of the ethical implications
of this method.

personal reflection The use and evaluation of personal experiences and values to
demonstrate analysis and interpretation of data in the context of the
research focus.

philosophy The underlying principle or set of ideas that contains a way of thinking and
behaving that makes up a broad field of knowledge or doctrine of thought.
This mixture of ideas, values and beliefs governs the system or ideology
and helps us to make sense of our life and the world and beyond. The
philosophy of the system is reflected in the unique rituals, stories, texts,
symbols and customs of the group.

popular culture A shared set of practices and beliefs that have attained global acceptance
and that can usually be characterised by being associated with
commercial products, paraphernalia and making money; developing from
a local to a global acceptance; allowing consumers to have widespread
access to the products that create the popular culture; and constantly
changing and evolving to maintain interest and market share.

power The ability or capacity to influence or persuade others to a point of view


or action to which they would not normally agree. Exercising power is
important in initiating or preventing change.

prejudice The attitude, usually negative, that involves prejudgements or


preconceived ideas, negative feelings and stereotyped beliefs held
towards a whole group or its individual members.

primary research Original information or research data collected first-hand by the person
doing the research. This new information is collected using the methods
of social research.
questionnaire A set of questions that can be closed-ended and/or open-ended that
allows for the collection of information from a large sample or number of
people. It is an impersonal instrument for collecting information and must,
therefore, contain clear questions that have been worded as simply as
possible to avoid any confusion or ambiguity. The questionnaire should be
designed to fulfil a specific research objective; it should be brief and the
sequence of questions should be logical.

race A social construction, the members of which are treated as distinct or


different on the basis of certain characteristics, some biological, that have
been assigned a social value by others for example, skin colour or other
physical characteristics.

racism An individuals or groups prejudice or discriminatory behaviours towards


those from another ethnic or racial background. Social practices that
discriminate against others on the basis of race can be institutionalised
within the organisational structures of society.

research design The way that the researcher develops and sequences the research
methods, and the ways in which these are applied to collect the research
data, according to the principles elaborated through the choice of
underpinning methodology.

research method The term method refers to the specific tools of the investigation,
or the ways that data can be collected and analysed for example,
content analysis, focus group, interview, observation, participant
observation, personal reflection, questionnaire, secondary research
and statistical analysis.

rights The social, civil and political rights accorded to individuals. These include
human rights the fundamental rights that individuals should have as
humans, such as the right to life, equality before the law, education and
freedom of belief.

ritual A series of actions or rites performed according to a prescribed order.


Rituals range in significance. Some are sacred to institutions and others
can be important to people for maintaining tradition and cultural heritage.
Some rituals can be referred to as part of an established routine.

secondary The researcher collects and collates existing information or other


research peoples research on a topic to be investigated. This information
is then synthesised as a whole by the researcher. Secondary research
is a qualitative method because the researcher makes subjective
judgements about what material is useful, and therefore used, for the
purposes of the research. Secondary research information can be
derived from formal reports, journals, newspapers, magazines and
other publications.

secularisation A process whereby religion loses its influence over the various spheres
of social life. Secular society has emerged from the modernisation
process whereby the rise of scientific knowledge and technological
advancements have shaped ideas about spiritual thinking in society.

self-concept Composed of the various identities, attitudes, beliefs and values that
an individual holds about himself or herself and by which the individual
defines himself or herself as a specific objective identity: the self.
social class Those members of a society who occupy a similar position in the
economic system of production. The different social classes experience
wide variations in wealth, status, material possessions, education, power
and authority. The hierarchical nature of the class system is expressed
in labels such as upper class, middle class, lower middle class and
working class. While the division of society into a series of social classes
is a form of social stratification, social mobility is possible.

social cognition The encoding, storage, retrieval and processing of information in an


individuals mind.

social construct A socially created aspect of social life. Social constructionists argue that
society is actively and creatively produced by human beings rather than
being merely given or taken for granted.

social As society becomes more complex, differences between groups are used
differentiation to distinguish between them. These differences may be based on
biological or physiological differences, such as gender or ethnicity, or
sociocultural differences, such as class and status. These criteria divide
society into social groups on the basis of perceived differences between
groups.

social exclusion The failure of society to provide individuals and groups with access
to those rights that are normally extended to its members, such as the
right to work, education, health care, technologies and adequate housing.
Social exclusion reflects inadequate social cohesion and integration;
at the individual level, it reflects the lack of capacity to participate
in what is normally expected in the society or to develop meaningful
social relationships.

social mobility The ability of individuals and groups to move vertically within a social
hierarchy with changes in income, occupation and so on.

social A systematic way in which people or groups of people are ranked in


stratification society. A stratified or hierarchical arrangement of status can be formed
on the basis of age, gender, class, caste, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or
income. An open system of stratification is where increased status can be
gained through merit and effort. A closed system of stratification is where
there is no opportunity for social mobility.

socialisation The process by which individuals learn to become functioning members


of society by internalising the roles, norms and values of that society.
Socialisation occurs as a result of the individuals interaction with the
agents of socialisation, through which he or she learns to perform social
roles.

socioeconomic A measure of an individuals class standing, typically indicated by income,


status occupational prestige, educational attainment and wealth.

statistical analysis Examining data to interpret meaning, make generalisations and


(data analysis) extrapolate trends. Often the data is in graphical form. Because data is
expressed in the language of mathematics, they should be evaluated and
interpreted by means of appropriate mathematical or statistical
procedures.
stereotype The preconceived view of the characteristics of a group held by
individuals who are not members of that group. These views are usually
negative, generalised and inflexible, and ignore differences that exist
between the members of the stereotyped group.

subculture A social or cultural group within a broader culture. Members of


a subcultural group share beliefs, social and cultural interests, and
patterns of behaviour that tend to unify them and distinguish them from
the broader culture in which they live. Subcultural groups exist at the
micro, meso and macro levels of society.

sustainability The required development to meet current human needs, whether


economic, social or environmental, without jeopardising the needs
of future generations or the health of the planet for all species depending
on it for their existence. Sustainability implies deliberate, responsible and
proactive decision-making from the local to the global level about a more
equitable distribution of resources and the minimisation of negative
impacts of humans on the planet.

symbol Symbols have the ability to culturally unify a group of people through their
representation and meaning. Symbols such as places, actions, words,
people and rituals are layered with meaning and valuable information for
different groups in society.

technologies The tools that we use to assist our interactions in society. Technologies
can be referred to as innovation and can initiate change to micro, meso
and macro operations in society. The value placed on technologies at any
level of society influences the rate of change to society and culture.
Technologies are constantly changing and adapting and their impacts
vary over time.

tradition The body of cultural practices and beliefs that are passed down from
generation to generation, often by word of mouth and behavioural
modelling, that are integral to the socialisation process and that represent
stability and continuity of the society or culture.

transformative A process whereby personal and social structures and systems work to
change create broad-based social change that completely alters existing
structures within society. To be transformative, change needs to occur at
multiple levels that combine shifts in peoples values, aspirations and
behaviours with wider shifts in processes, strategies, practices and
systems of the society. Transformative change is profound and
permanent.

values Deeply held ideas and beliefs that guide our thinking, language and
behaviour. Differences in values exist among groups of people in society
and are a part of ones culture. Values can be challenged.
westernisation A social process where the values, customs and practices of Western
industrial capitalism are adopted to form the basis of cultural change.

worldview A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world that is


characterised by an organised and accepted set of ideas that attempts
to explain the social, cultural, physical and psychological world.